On a recent trip to Cuba, a Pastor asked that I return thanks to the Canadian brothers and sisters that have supported the ministry in Cuba. I recorded his message and I am relaying the message of thanks here, to you:
Pastor Santiago, “I just want to tell you thank you first of all for the concern you have for us, and to be willing to pray for us. I know that when brother Jacob came to visit us last time he and his group were genuinely concerned for us and for my personal well being. I want to thank you for everything you have brought to minister to the children. We are going to prepare a team to use these gifts to enhance the lives of the children, and to fill their lives with joy. We have nearby a hospital for children and also a hospital in the city of Santiago de Cuba where we minister. We will take these gifts to the children there to make their lives happier. I am very happy for your gifts because I never thought we were going to receive these ministry supplies today. We see the difficult times these children are going through in sickness and even dying of cancer and it is our joy, our pleasure to
be able to put a smile on their face, if even for a moment. We pray constantly for these children and God answers by sending gifts from Canada that can brighten the day of a dying child. I am thankful to each one of the Canadians that has listened to the voice of God and has sent resources with brother Jacob. You may think these are small insignificant
items, but to brighten the face of a child with cancer is not small
or insignificant. God Bless you and we here in my church will continue to pray that God will bless brother Jacob, his ministry with the Assist organization, and all those Canadians that are so helpful to their Cuban brothers.”
I have had the pleasure of fellowshipping with Pastor Santiago a number of times over the last few years. He is a God-fearing humble man. He is slowly going blind and at this point struggles to read or even recognize faces. His passion for Christ and for the lost is amazing. His limited vision doesn’t deter him in any way. If anything, it spurs him on with more passion. His love for children is second to none. I am humbled to serve alongside him whenever possible. Pastor Santiago would ask that you continue to pray
for the children he ministers to and I will ask on his behalf that you pray for him, his family, his church, his ministries, and his vision as well.
Shelly and I returned from our final trip to Cuba in early March. We arrived in a different Canada than the one we left. Shelly contracted a bug in Cuba, (Not Covid-19), and I caught it just as we returned to Canada. This directed us to spend some time in isolation. Together, but separated from the world so to speak. After a week we returned to work, Shelly’s cough persisted and so she is working from an office in our home. With the work Shelly does as the Southern Manitoba Regions ‘Infection Prevention and Control Coordinator’, she is under tremendous stress, with long days and tough decisions. Her workload has been focused on Covid-19 but she still has to deal with the other outbreaks and infections that the rest of us seem to have forgotten about.
Within my ministry work, speaking engagements have been cancelled, and my personal meetings postponed. I am still able to connect with some Pastors, Leaders, Business People and Supporters via email or phone but those are somewhat limited. In the midst of all this craziness, I have found the time to take care of a few projects around the house with many more in wait. I have also been able to focus more on office related tasks that so often get left behind. I have never been a great fundraiser. It’s a difficult and humbling task to ask for funding, and so I continue to bathe financial needs in prayer and place them in God’s gracious hands, following as He directs.
God continues to tap on shoulders for the needs of the Cuban people and for our personal ministerial needs. We still see the faithful, whom He has called, help carry these needs. God is good and in Him we trust! For those who hear and listen we are thankful. We are humbled by the willingness of people to sacrifice and help not only their neighbours, but even strangers in a foreign land. I have stated many times over the last few weeks that man was designed to be a social creature. Not isolated, not alone, but in constant fellowship with our creator and in fellowship with each other. As we are forced to distance ourselves from our fellow man, my prayer is, ‘We would spend more time to fellowship with our creator. In times of silence, of
solitude, of isolation, may you find comfort and fellowship within the arms of Christ Jesus’.
Cubans and Cuban churches are going through times of trial. Cubans are a very social people that hug and kiss everyone who crosses their doorpost. Practicing social distancing is extremely difficult for them and is causing much anxiety and depression. Churches like here, have shutdown. Unlike here, most people do NOT have internet in their home and therefore have no way of receiving online services, fellowship, teaching, and encouragement. Most of them are in more severe isolation than what we are experiencing here in Canada.
Food and daily sundries:
Cuba continues to experience great shortages in resources from toothpaste to fuel, from beans to medications. This has been even more exasperated due to the limits placed on transportation of foods and people. Markets are emptier than ever; rations are less and less daily. Pray for Medical and Humanitarian Aid to be allowed past the USA blockade against Cuba.
Pray for my Ministry -Assist Canada (Cuban Ministries)
My April trip to Cuba was cancelled and I wonder how Covid-19 will impact future Vision Trips. Will Vision Trips, where we take groups of people into villages be allowed by the Cuban Government as they try to avoid future waves of the illness entering the island nation? I have temporarily halted seeking out speaking engagements in Canada. The Canadian Church is in a unique time, and its focus is somewhat internal, for good reason. As we all try to adjust to the new normal, I also try to adjust, seeking God in direction and inspiration. Assist Canada ministers in many different nations and all those missionaries and their ministries have been impacted in some way. I am trusting God is allowing me to use this time to grow closer to Him and His people. Continue to pray for God to raise up the desperately needed resources for Cuba and pray for Assist Canada to find methods to deliver those resources.